April 6, 2023
The Garden of Gethsemane
“Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and He said, ‘Sit here while I go over there to pray.’ He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and He became anguished and distressed. He told them, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me.’ He went on a little farther and bowed with His face to the ground, praying, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from Me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not mine.’ Then He returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, ‘Couldn’t you watch with Me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!’ Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, ‘My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, Your will be done.’ When He returned to them again, He found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. So He went to pray a third time, saying the same thing again. Then He came to the disciples and said, ‘Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look-the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!’” (Matthew 26:36-46)
The Garden of Gethsemane of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives was one of Jesus’ favorite places to pray. In the parallel scripture in Luke, it is written that “Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives.” (Luke 22:39) However, Christians remember this site best as the place where Jesus pleaded with God the Father. This story is extremely meaningful to followers of Jesus, one reason being is because it shows our Lord’s humanity. From the description of Jesus, we can see that He experienced fear, anxiety, and dread as He prayed. In other words, Jesus reacted to the closeness of His torture and death with feelings we can all understand.
Our enemy the Devil taunts us by telling us we can’t be like Jesus because He is God. But we can understand through this story that Jesus was God cloaked in human flesh, meaning that He experienced the world as we do. He felt pain. He was acquainted with grief. He even knew anxiety. However, He still won every spiritual battle He faced. In this battle, as in others, Jesus’ secret weapon was prayer. He bowed on His knees and fought like a man. He secluded Himself and prayed continually until His will was completely and totally surrendered to His Heavenly Father.
Even though Jesus left the garden as a prisoner, at the same time, He also left it as a victor. He had surrendered to and had therefore accepted God’s will for His life. He knew His death was going to be painful, but He also knew that He had been called to die. Jesus knew that everything, the potential blessings and the earthly consequences, were all firmly in the hands of the Heavenly Father.
As Christians, we confront fearsome trials today as well. God uses the hardships and the difficulties we endure to conform us to the image of Jesus. This is what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote, “For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like His Son, so that His Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Romans 8:29) If we are going to be like the Lord Jesus, we must learn from His actions. In the face of difficulty, we should seek His will for our lives, commit to following it, and then leave the consequences and the glory in His extremely capable hands.
FOLLOW UP ACTIVITY
Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, prayed and submitted Himself to His Father’s will. Today, in your journal or on a piece of paper, write out a prayer to the Lord, submitting yourself to His will for your life. If you’re leading your family through this devotion, have a discussion about what it means to be totally surrendered to Jesus. Then lead each family member to write out their own prayer of surrender to the Lord.
PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, thank You for all You endured for me. Thank You for surrendering to Your Father’s will in the Garden of Gethsemane. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.